Sunday, May 8, 2016

Judge rules: Drs. Spencer, Lindzen, Happer are not credible expert witnesses!

So reports John Abraham (Professor of thermal and fluid sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Minn) in a recent UK Guardian story about this important milestone.  It's no great shock to anyone who's spent any time examining the claims of these Godfather's of 'science by echo-chamber, slander and misrepresentation'

To me it represents a small victory in the struggle to expose the fundamentally dishonest nature of these central luminaries of the Republican/libertarian PR machine.  The one dedicated to confusing the public and leaders about serious climate science among other important issues.

Lately, real life has kept me too busy for serious blogging, but this news is worth sharing.  Particularly after the past week and my depression caused by realizing that Mr. Trump actually will become the GOP standard bearer.  It was a nice reminder that some rationality still exists out there.  

Though that rationality seems tougher and tougher to find, watching supposedly "principled" Republican Party leaders eat all their grand principled words as they scurry to fall in line under Herrn Trump.  Principled Right-wing, indeed.  You aren't kidding us.

Following are quotes from Dr. Abraham's story, that I hope encourage you to link to the full story.  There you'll find all sorts of further links to various related stories and information.

Following that I tag on a report from Greenpeace: Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding (It's no wonder the Republican crowd hate Greenpeace, but someone has to get the facts and evidence out there.).  Take a look at what drives this Dr. Happer.  

I wonder how my Republican pals would compare Happer's misdeeds with Dr. Mann's?  Then explain to me why Happer isn't being dragged out to be tarred and feathered, like they used to do in them good ol' days.

Update: also see John Mashey's detailed documentation: 
"Peabody's Outlier Gang Couldn't Shoot Straight In Minnesota Carbon Case, Judge Rebuffs Happer, Lindzen, Spencer, Mendelsohn, Bezdek"

Peabody coal's contrarian scientist witnesses lose their court case
Peabody Energy brought contrarians Spencer, Happer, and Lindzen to testify on their behalf, but the judge wasn’t convinced by their case

John Abraham | May 2, 2016

In Minnesota, an administrative hearing resulted in a judicial recommendation that will have impacts across the country. It was a case argued mainly between environmental groups (such as Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and their clients Fresh Energy and the Sierra Club) and energy producers (such as the now-bankrupt coal company Peabody Energy) regarding what a reasonable social cost of carbon should be.

I was called as an expert witness in the case along with respected climate scientist Dr. Andrew Dessler. We were opposed by the well-known contrarians Drs. Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, and William Happer (who has recently received attention related to his charged fees in the case). (bold added) In full disclosure, Dr. Dessler and I were not paid for our work in the case. I recently wrote about the testimony and provided links to the testimonies submitted for the case. The judge’s recommendations and how they will impact energy decisions in the USA were the keys to this trial.

... A summary of the ruling can be found here and the full report is available here.

How was this case won? Well certainly it helps to have science on your side. Without that, even the most expensive expert witnesses struggle. But Peabody’s scientists made errors that were easy to identify and point out to the Judge. Furthermore, the Judge was smart, quickly able to see through nonsense non-science. ...

Perhaps the key findings are best articulated in the judicial conclusions, which begin on page 114. Among the conclusions are:

22. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 1 or 1.5°C is correct.

23. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the climate sensitivity is reasonably considered to be in the 2-4.5°C range.

47. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that the relied upon process is neither peer-reviewed nor transparent.

I hope that this case will serve as a standard for other utility commissions as they work through the complex issues of the cost of carbon pollution. I also hope that the high standards of science used in Minnesota will be reflected in other areas where similar cases arise. You can’t just bring in some contrarian scientists to make unsupported statements that minimize the costs of climate change. ... (Link for the full story)

But wait, there's more.  Ever watch Dr. Happer?  Condescending superiority, he's too smart to even consider anything other than his own self-certainty.  Ever listen to Dr. Happer?  Science by rhetoric, rather than scientific argument by substantive facts.  Here's an interesting read into the guy's moral substance. 
Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding
December 8, 2015 | by Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan

Citing industry-funded documents – including testimony to state hearings and newspaper articles – Professor Frank Clemente of Penn State said: “In none of these cases is the sponsor identified. All my work is published as an independent scholar.”

Leading climate-sceptic academic, Professor William Happer, agreed to write a report for a Middle Eastern oil company on the benefits of CO2 and to allow the firm to keep the source of the funding secret.  

Happer is due to appear this afternoon as a star witness in Senate hearings called by Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

In emails to reporters he also revealed Peabody Energy paid thousands of dollars for him to testify at a separate state hearing, with the money being paid to a climate-sceptic think tank. ...

The investigation also found:
  • US coal giant Peabody Energy also paid tens of thousands of dollars to an academic who produced coal-friendly research and provided testimony at state and federal climate hearings, the amount of which was never revealed.

  • The Donors Trust, an organisation that has been described as the “dark money ATM” of the US conservative movement, confirmed in a taped conversation with an undercover reporter that it could anonymously channel money from a fictional Middle Eastern oil and gas company to US climate sceptic organisations.

  • Princeton professor William Happer laid out details of an unofficial peer review process run by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK climate sceptic think tank, and said he could ask to put an oil-funded report through a similar review process, after admitting that it would struggle to be published in an academic journal.

  • A recent report by the GWPF that had been through the same unofficial peer review process, was promoted as “thoroughly peer-reviewed” by influential columnist Matt Ridley - a senior figure in the organisation.
The findings echo the case of Willie Soon, who was the subject of an investigation published in the  New York Times earlier this year. The investigation revealed that Soon had accepted donations from fossil fuel companies and anonymous donors in return for producing climate-sceptic scientific papers. He described his studies as “deliverables” and failed to declare who paid for the research.

The revelations also follow a series of reports showing fossil fuel companies burying the truth about climate change, while funding flawed research to cast doubt on the scientific consensus.

Academics for hire

Reporters approached the academics claiming to be representatives of unnamed fossil fuel companies – one, a Middle Eastern oil and gas exploration company, the other a coal mining firm based in Indonesia – looking to commission “independent” research.

“In none of these cases is the sponsor identified. All my work is published as an independent scholar.” – Professor Frank Clemente

The individuals approached have previously been linked to fossil fuel companies or climate sceptic organisations that have received fossil fuel funding.

Professor Frank Clemente, a sociologist from Penn State university, was asked if he could produce a report “to counter damaging research linking coal to premature deaths (in particular the World Health Organization’s figure that 3.7 million people die per year from fossil fuel pollution)”.

He said that this was within his skill set; that he could be quoted using his university job title; and that it would cost around $15,000 for an 8–10 page paper. He also explained that he charged $6,000 for writing a newspaper op-ed. (bold added)

When asked whether he would need to declare where the money came from, Professor Clemente said: “There is no requirement to declare source funding in the US.”

Clemente is a favourite of the coal industry and particularly Peabody Energy, which regularly uses his research as evidence of the need for an expansion of coal power in developing countries.

In the exchange Clemente disclosed that for another report on “the Global Value of Coal” he was paid $50,000 by Peabody Energy – the sponsorship was mentioned in the small print of the paper, but the amount has not been disclosed until now.

Following the report Clemente produced an op-ed arguing against the coal divestment movement in universities, which was picked up by over 50 newspapers across the US. But as Clemente told undercover reporters: “In none of these cases is the sponsor identified. All my work is published as an independent scholar.”

Professor Clemente failed to respond to requests for comment.

Investigators also approached Professor William Happer of Princeton University, who is chairman of the climate sceptic George Marshall Institute and a former Director of Energy Research at the US Department of Energy under the first President Bush where he “supervised all of DOE’s work on climate change”.   

Professor Happer, who is a physicist rather than a climatologist, told Greenpeace reporters that he would be willing to produce research promoting the benefits of carbon dioxide for $250 per hour. He asked that the money be paid to climate sceptic campaign group, the CO2 Coalition, of which he is a board member.

Happer described his work on carbon dioxide as a “labor of love” and said that while other pollutants produced by burning fossil fuels are a problem, in his opinion “More CO2 will benefit the world”, adding “The only way to limit CO2 would be to stop using fossil fuels, which I think would be a profoundly immoral and irrational policy.”

When reporters asked if it would be possible for the fossil fuel client’s role in commissioning the research to remain hidden, in order to give the work more credibility, Happer replied that: “If I write the paper alone, I don’t think there would be any problem stating that ‘the author received no financial compensation for this essay.’”

Happer also disclosed that Peabody Energy paid $8,000 in return for his testimony in a crucial Minnesota state hearing on the impacts of carbon dioxide. This fee was also paid to the CO2 Coalition.

“I am trying get [sic] another mysterious client to donate funds to the CO2 Coalition instead of compensating me for my writing something for them.” – Professor Happer

The academics’ willingness to conceal the source of funding contrasts strongly with the ethics of journals such as Science, which states in its submission requirements that research “should be accompanied by clear disclosures from all authors of their affiliations, funding sources, or financial holdings that might raise questions about possible sources of bias”.

Late last month Happer appeared at a climate sceptic summit in Texas. There he defended CO2 production saying: “Our breath is not that different from a power plant.” He went on to say, “If plants could vote, they would vote for coal”.  (bold added)

Hiding the money trail

The investigation has also revealed a system by which oil and gas companies can anonymously fund US climate-sceptic scientists and organisations.

When asked to ensure that the commissioning of the report could not be traced back to the Middle East oil and gas company, Professor Happer contacted his fellow CO2 Coalition board member, Bill O’Keefe, explaining: “I am trying get [sic] another mysterious client to donate funds to the CO2 Coalition instead of compensating me for my writing something for them.”

O’Keefe, a former Exxon lobbyist, suggested channelling it through the Donors Trust, a controversial organisation that has previously been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the US conservative movement.

The organisation has a long history of channelling funding to US climate sceptics, including controversial professor Willie Soon, and some of the most influential organisations in the US conservative movement, including Americans for Prosperity, the Heartland Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.

When investigators asked Peter Lipsett of the Donors Trust if the Trust would accept money from an oil and gas company based in the Middle East, he said that, although the Trust would need the cash to come from a US bank account, “we can take it from a foreign body, it’s just we have to be extra cautious with that.”

He added that: “I’ll double check everything and make sure I’m wording things  correctly after chatting with our CFO [Chief Financial Officer], but what he’s told me before is that the preference is to have it in US dollars, and the ideal preference is to have it originate from a US source, but the US dollars is the important bit”.

By Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan | December 8, 2015

Revealing emails:

A striking resemblance between testimony for Peabody Coal and for Ted Cruz

Contrarian witnesses made many of the same arguments in a court case for the world’s largest private-sector coal company as they did in Ted Cruz’s senate hearing

In a recent congressional hearing, Ted Cruz (one of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination) first asked us to follow the science, and then misused and abused the very science he reportedly admires. The contrarian scientists that were invited to testify are members of a shrinking tribe that every year has to work harder to deny the clear evidence of a human-caused warming world.
Those scientists were William HapperJudith Curry, and John Christy. They argued that the Earth isn’t warming (or has slowed its warming) or that satellite temperature measurements are the best way to measure the Earth’s temperatures. In fact, satellites don’t measure temperature at all, but these witnesses didn’t mention that fact. 
Additionally, the satellite measurements that they showed are from the middle of the troposphere, high in the atmosphere (not at the surface). Finally, the contrarians declined to emphasize that the synthetic satellite temperature data have been wrong for years. The upper part of the atmosphere (stratosphere) is cooling as a result of the increased greenhouse gases while the lower layer (the troposphere) is warming. If any measurements of the stratosphere bleed into the measurements of the troposphere, it can cause a cooling bias.  ...

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